It would be wonderful to learn why you should volunteer at your local Food Bank. It is a great thing to do, and it will make a big difference.
Your time is precious, and you can use this time to help your community. Volunteering at a food bank is what you want. If you love being active and assisting, there is no reason why you should not devote some of your time to these activities.
This article will tell you why you should consider becoming a food bank volunteer.
Huge Need for Volunteers to Make A Difference
Many incredible food banks work tirelessly to assist those in need, and they can't do it alone without the assistance of volunteers.
Volunteers leave each shift knowing that they have helped provide food for those in need. Volunteers make a difference in the community by helping to collect, sort, pack and distribute food. Even a few hours of volunteering can make a big difference to our neighbors in crisis.
Volunteering demonstrates your concern for others. It indicates that you recognize that there are people out there who need your assistance, and more significantly, that you are willing to go out there and do something about it.
Take Some Time And Someone Will Be Appreciative
Volunteering can be a great way to spend time with those you care about. It is a great way to reconnect with your fellow volunteers and the people in dire need of food donations through food banks. Through various activities and events, you can spend time together. Take a break from the couch and get out of your house in a safe place.
Someone will appreciate your time. Volunteering is a great way to give back, and they will take a few hours per month or week. Don't ever believe that your time or effort isn't worth it because you don't have the time or ability to volunteer.
Learn New Skills And Change Your Life
Volunteering is an excellent way for young professionals and students to acquire new skills. You can learn about food banks, earn credits for classes, and show future employers that you care about your community by volunteering one shift.
Sometimes you may feel overwhelmed by your busy schedule and wonder if you are making a difference. It's worth it to get a hug from someone who has helped her child at the food bank, and it will humble and teach you to be compassionate and grateful for all you have.
Enjoy Yourself While Joining the Movement
It is never too late to help the hungry community. Many food bank volunteers share that volunteering has changed their outlook on the world.
Volunteering is a broad field that you can do in many ways. Volunteering is a great way to give back to the community if you don't have the opportunity to work in a job you love. Volunteers in food banks can have fun packing and distributing food.
Volunteering at your local food bank is an excellent idea for many reasons. Volunteering at your local food bank will benefit you and be a good cause. Volunteering will give you many benefits. Volunteers can save lives, help build relationships, and learn new skills.
Volunteer with Second Harvest of the Greater Valley to make use of your skills and talents. We do not just welcome you as an ordinary volunteer, but as our extended family that is ready to assist us in helping families in need. Contact us today to become a volunteer.
Even though you may not be in a position to purchase food for your family, this does not imply that you must go hungry. You may obtain free food from a local food bank, and you may only visit the food bank a certain number of times. Your financial position and the location of the local food pantry are also essential considerations.
Some individuals live next door to their soup kitchen or charitable organization, while others must drive to a different site since theirs has been closed due to economic constraints. Some individuals are unsure of where to turn for assistance when experiencing food insecurity.
What is a Food Bank?
A food bank is an organization that provides food to those who are in desperate need. They may be set up as a warehouse or a retail shop, depending on their needs. Volunteers donate resources, particularly food, to those in need, frequently in vouchers or coupons. Some food banks are even mobile, allowing them to reach individuals who are in the greatest need.
People with low earnings get the most significant amount of aid since they are in the greatest degree of need. Once a family has paid their rent and utilities, they may be unable to pay for food. People are sometimes forced to choose between purchasing food and purchasing other needs. It is possible to face financial ruin just by being ill if you do not have health insurance.
If you don't know where to look for free food or where to get your shopping list, ask around. If you don't feel comfortable asking family members or coworkers for recommendations, the internet is an excellent place to start your search. The simplest way to begin your search is to type "food banks near me" into the search engine.
How Often Can I Go To The Food Bank As A Beneficiary?
There is no limit to how many times someone can visit a food bank. Because every food bank is different, there are many ways to go. First, some food banks offer meals and grocery coupons so that people don't have the hassle of cooking. For those with disabilities or children who have many, the second type provides more food.
A person can visit a food bank up to twice or more per month if they are in desperate need. It is because it takes families the longest time to get on their feet again. It is not okay to go hungry because you can't afford food. Many resources are available to help those in need, so don't hesitate to feed your hunger.
You'll find out which place offers more groceries and ask a few questions about their offerings. Some areas will require you to wait until the first interview to visit again, and others will allow you to come back as often as you need until they are ready to let you go.
If you don't have another place to go, you shouldn't feel that you are imposing your will on the food bank. You could save your life by having food available so that you can go to work or school. You may receive a lot of food depending on the amount they offer.
How Often Can I Go To The Food Bank As A Donor?
Food donations are typically divided into two categories. One category is the meal you wish to donate, and the other category is the food or grocery items you want to donate. You can either donate one meal or several meals or groceries. You can donate any amount, but most likely, they will provide a high-quality home-based or medical nutrition program for someone in need.
You have many options for donating food to food banks. People often donate food to food banks by placing their food donations into baskets. You can find baskets at many food banks. It's easy to do, and it's a great way to help your family.
You will need to complete the application form to donate food to food banks. It would be best if you answered all questions truthfully. The food bank will accept you for food donations if you provide enough information. Most food donations are accepted within 24 hours of being donated.
Food trucks are another way to donate food to food banks. Look online or call around to find out how many food trucks are available in your local area. You may also find food trucks in certain areas at specific times of the year. It is worth calling around to see if there are any food banks you could donate food to during those times.
An online service is also an excellent way to donate food to a food bank. Many sites offer food donations, and you can donate food by simply putting in your food items. You will match your donations with other people in your local area. You are more likely to have your donation accepted the first time that you use these services.
It is vital to know how often a person can get food donations from food banks. This information will help you choose the right food bank for you. No matter what your circumstances, food donations can be made by anyone. Even those who have financial difficulties can still use food donations to help them make ends meet. A food bank may be able to assist you if you're having trouble making ends meet.
It is wise to check more than one food bank since you may find something at each location. It is the same whether you make repeated trips to the exact food bank location. It is not against the regulations to visit more than one food bank or to seek further assistance on many occasions. However, keep in mind that almost every food bank has a limit on how many times you can visit in a given week or month.
When you are a food bank beneficiary, donor, or volunteer, you must know how often you may visit the facility. If you would like to learn more about Second Harvest of the Greater Valley, please contact us now.
Any local food bank aims to guarantee that no one goes hungry or is left suffering without someone or a place to turn to. Food banks are available in response to the growing number of people who need help feeding themselves and their families. They are making themselves simple to access through their physical location and the services they offer.
The country has seen an increase in food banks and the expansion of their beneficiaries. It raises the question of "How do food banks know who is most in need of help?" Let's talk about these people and how food banks can identify them.
Who Needs the Most?You can answer this question best by knowing the economic stability of the population. You can identify it by looking at the poverty rate of a country or region. In 2020, the national poverty rate in the United States increased to 11.4 percent, up from 10.5 percent in 2019. The 0.9% difference constitutes the additional 3.3 million people to the 37.3 million American people in poverty.
There is a 2.9% drop in the median household income from $69,560 in 2019 to $67,521 for 2020. It was a clear sign of the rise of the national poverty rate. However, the actual median earnings for all workers over 15 years old decreased by 1.2%, from $42,065 to $41,535 between 2019 and 2020.
In California, the poverty rate is 11.8%, which is higher than the national average. Its household income has a median of $75,235, while the per capita income is $36,955.
These numbers show that many people need the most help from food banks and charitable organizations. Let's now look at other reasons why these people need assistance the most.
Why Do They Need The Most?It is those who live below the poverty line who have the greatest need for help. Not only are the homeless and those scrounging for food and recyclable items to make ends meet, but they are also included in this category. People who are employed are also regarded as having the greatest need for food donations and other assistance.
Regarding food banks, those with employment are more likely to utilize their services because of low wages, delayed obtaining benefits, and changes in the number of other benefits available. These issues are exacerbated by a flawed welfare system, a substandard health care system, traumatic life experiences, and a lack of community support.
It has led to many people in need being dependent on charitable activities and organizations such as food banks and pantries, either partially or entirely.
How To Identify Them?Food banks may be a valuable resource for anybody trying to provide for their family or themselves with nutritious food. They do a better job of identifying individuals who are in the most desperate need. To identify individuals who may need food assistance, food banks have developed a screening procedure that they use. They gather demographic information from applicants and conduct interviews to evaluate whether they are eligible for food assistance.
After being accepted into the food bank program, you must complete the registration process. Some food banks only take individual registrations, while others allow both. Those who do not have children will register as single people, families with children, and families without children. Other food banks accept anybody who needs food without the requirement for an application, screening or interviewing them beforehand.
What Services Can They Expect?Food banks are facilities that store and distribute food to smaller front-line organizations that serve the community. They don't typically hand out food to those who need it immediately. They distribute food donations via food pantries and meal programs, which are available as resources. They help the elderly, families, and others who are most in danger of going hungry.
Additionally, food banks contribute to initiatives that help those who need food to become more self-sufficient. They also work to raise awareness about hunger among the public and advocate for legislation protecting individuals from starvation. Individuals, charities, companies, and the government may all play a role in the fight against hunger, as can all other stakeholders.
Food from the industry and donation drives, food banks inventory and store the food they collect before distributing it to various organizations such as food pantries, shelters, and kitchens.
When Can They Get Their Food?It depends on which local food bank you are closest to. You may need to reserve a time for those marked "by appointment only."
Most food banks collaborate with community organizations and healthcare professionals to identify those in need. Food banks provide various services, including bags of food for collection or delivery to people unable to collect in person. Wherever feasible, those choices will be provided so that you and your family may choose appropriate food for you.
The food bank can track who comes and goes from their facility. It helps to ensure that the food bank does everything possible to help those in the greatest need.
In the middle of this global emergency, we can be as blessed as those who have the means. We can also be as unfortunate as those who have nothing. But through working together, we can share our blessings with the unfortunate ones. And through sharing our life challenges, we can get help from those who are blessed. Become a volunteer with Second Harvest or be aided by us. We will each help one another overcome the struggles of life.
There are many ways to extend your hands to community service. One of those is helping people to have good access to food. The presence of food banks in the community is one of the volunteer opportunities that you can try. Volunteering at a food bank can make a huge difference not just in yourself but also in the life of others.
You might not have thought of this type of volunteering, but you may be surprised at the many benefits. These are just a few of the things you need to know about volunteering with such organizations.
How to Volunteer?
Because of the many ways they can help, many people love to be involved with food banks. Volunteering at a food bank can make you an asset, and there are many ways you can help. These are some of the things you could do as a volunteer.
Sorting and Packing
By assembling food boxes for distribution, you can ensure that shelves are stocked. By sorting and packing food, you can help prepare for distribution.
Assistance In Physical Activities
Mobile pantries, drive-thru and no-contact distributions also need your physical assistance. Your neighbors will be grateful that you are helping them feed their families.
Delivery of Meals
Many communities are sheltering in place. You can help ensure that our most vulnerable neighbors receive the food they require while still staying safe.
Many food banks are now asking for volunteers to fundraise and spread awareness online. To help raise funds online, the best way to help is to host a virtual food drive (VFD).
Donating Money/ Groceries
Call your local food bank to find out what they most need and where you can drop it off. Don't worry if you don't have the time. You can also donate money.
Who is Eligible to Volunteer?
Volunteer opportunities are open to anyone willing and able to give their time. Volunteers can apply if they are eight years or older. Their age will determine their responsibilities and duties at the food bank. Volunteers who are eight and older can help in the warehouse, sorting and packing. Volunteers who are 15 or older can help in the mobile food pantry and the kitchen. Also, volunteers under the age of 18 must have a chaperone over 21 from the same household.
How Can I Begin Volunteering?
Volunteers are required to create an online account and register for the spots they want. This registration process applies to everyone, from guardians to children and volunteers. It is essential to complete it before you go to volunteer.
As a registered volunteer, you can schedule yourself for any shift or position you want. Although you can go with your friends, joining larger groups is impossible due to the current pandemic. Warehouses work with a limited number of volunteer spots. Due to social distancing protocols, many of our volunteer jobs must be done by one individual.
You can help those in need by getting involved with community services like the local food bank. Volunteering at a food bank can make a real difference in people's lives. Join Second Harvest today to make the world a warmer and welcoming place for all.
Food banks and food pantries play important roles to fight hunger. There are millions of people experiencing food insecurity and a food bank and a pantry continue to help these individuals. However, food banks and food pantries are often used interchangeably, but these are not the same.
What is the difference between a food bank and food pantry? Today, there are over 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries in the US. However, it’s easy to get confused between the two.
Don’t worry; in this post, we’ll discuss their differences to give you a clearer idea of what each one is and how you can help give back to the community!
A food bank is the “distributor,” or a centralized facility where food pantries can get their sources. It’s a non-profit organization that stores millions of pounds of food to be sent to local food programs.
However, food banks come in various sizes. There are some that are huge, while some are on the smaller end. Either way, the food these banks store is donated by grocery stores, local neighbors, and restaurants.
Furthermore, Feeding America connects food banks to a network of additional resources.
So basically, food banks function like a warehouse because they can hold a lot of food compared to food pantries. Aside from the local community’s food donations, food banks also purchase food in bulk or wholesale prices.
A food bank is a supply line that works through a network of food air partners and programs to distribute food to food pantries, soup kitchens, and many more. Food banks hire drivers to make the deliveries.
Aside from delivering canned goods, food banks also provide perishable items. Also, they also offer other services to help clients, such as educational initiatives to break poverty and improve quality of life. Other programs include local farm partnerships and nonprofit grocery stores.
Food banks may also provide additional resources through federally funded programs.
So, what is a food pantry? This is one of the places where food from the food bank goes. Every week, a food pantry feeds hundreds of people. However, every community is different; therefore, food pantries also vary in size.
Usually, you will find a food pantry inside a school because it makes it easier for kids and their families to get food.
There are also mobile food pantries that go around local communities with pre-packed boxes of food. These mobile food pantries help make food more accessible to those who are in need.
One way to tell the difference between a food bank and food pantry is that only one feed people directly, and that is a food pantry. It is also the responsibility of food pantries to seek and help local individuals and families receive food.
Food banks and food pantries are integral components to fight against hunger. The good thing is that there are so many ways you can give back to your community. You can volunteer at a local organization or even donate.
Food banks continue to help address food insecurity across the US and other parts of the world. But wait, what is it? A food bank is a non-profit, charitable organization that distributes food to those who can’t fend for themselves. The effort helps fight hunger.
Now, the question is, how much can a food bank hold?
Find out more below.
The Operational Models
Globally, there are thousands of operating food banks but not all of them are the same. One of the things that set food banks apart is the operational model.
A food bank that operates on the front line model gives food directly to people, while the warehouse model supplies food to intermediaries, such as food pantries, soup kitchens, and other front-line organizations.
The warehouse model can typically hold a lot of food. So, based on government data, the average warehouse is 16,400 square feet. A warehouse that size can store enough food.
In the US, Australia, and some parts of Canada, the standard model for food banks acts as a warehouse. Furthermore, it is common for cities to have a single food bank that acts as a centralized warehouse that serves hundred front-line agencies in the US. Therefore, this type of food bank will work similarly to a for-profit food distributor, but in this case, it distributed food to non-food retailers but to charities.
A Bigger Capacity In the Works
In June 2021, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that they will invest up to $1 billion, including $500 million in American Rescue Plan funding, in The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). The funds can help support and expand food banks and local organizations to serve their communities.
Due to the global pandemic, the USDA carries a stronger belief that the food system’s future should be fair, distributed, competitive, and resilient. This investment is the first part of their new initiative called Build Back Better.
“Hunger is on the decline, thanks to aggressive action by the Biden-Harris Administration, but we must do more to improve partnerships and infrastructure that power emergency food distribution to ensure the food provided is nutritious and supports a better food system,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
Up to $100 million will go to infrastructure grants to build capacity for food banks and expand their reach. USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) will launch a new program to help food assistance organizations meet TEFAP requirements while strengthening infrastructure and expanding their reach.
With this, how much a food bank can hold will grow due to the incoming investments in infrastructure.
More Than Filling Bellies
The future is bright for food banks and this is because of how positively they’re evolving over the years. With a huge investment on its way, food banks also have proven that they’re not there only to feed the hungry, but also to provide nourishment that results in healthier communities.
Food banks are vital in addressing community health disparities through foods and other services they provide. Today, food banks are working to distribute more fresh fruits and vegetables to communities they serve.
You don’t need to worry about their capacity or how much food they can hold because they don’t stock all the foods there. There is an ongoing distribution that leaves food banks with enough space to collect and receive donations daily.
In the state of California, the COVID-19 crisis has changed the reality of emergency food assistance in the state. Last year, they launched Food Bank Capacity: $150M One-Time, which will make a long-term impact to improve the most crucial parts of the emergency food system. It will enable food banks and local partners to acquire and distribute more California-grown healthy produce and protein.
Additionally, they aim to purchase refrigerated trucks to receive and distribute food, cold storage to keep food fresh, and technology for modern inventory systems.
How You Can Help
Are you thinking of donating to a food bank? That’s great! Non-perishable goods are highly recommended, but you also might want to consider donating cash instead. Why? Your money can do more than a couple of boxes of non-perishable items. How is that possible?
Food banks work with grocers and manufacturers, which means they can acquire food much cheaper than you would pay at a grocery store. In fact, according to Feeding America, every dollar donated can secure and distribute 12 pounds of food, which is roughly around ten meals!
Another thing you can do is plan a monthly donation. Monthly and quarterly recurring donations help charities maintain a steady stream of revenue throughout the year. Moreover, it also helps them plan well for the coming months because they know they can work with something every month. Remember, your donation doesn’t have to be big—in fact, small amounts can go a long way.
In case you don’t have enough cash to buy groceries or donate, you can consider volunteering instead if you really want to help. Giving them a bit of your time will be helpful. A lot of organizations need additional volunteers to fill in for those who can’t serve, especially in a global pandemic. Many volunteers who have health concerns have been ordered to stay at home, which is why there is an increase in the demand for volunteers these years.
There are also some virtual positions available that you might be interested in, which usually include writing notes, making calls to thank donors, and a lot more.
Remember, it doesn’t take a lot of your time and money to make a difference.
Food banks will continue to evolve and help a significant number of people. Today, it’s not feeding hungry bellies, but food banks help promote healthier communities. With that, by finding ways to help, such as familiarizing yourself with how it works, how you can help, and many more, you’ll be able to contribute significantly and help a lot of people. As mentioned, small steps will go a long way.
Do you wonder how Second Harvest food banks keep track of the donations they receive? The organization was established to acquire and distribute donated and purchased foods. Its policy is to recognize the food flow through the organization as in-kind contributions. Therefore, their inventory shouldn’t be sold or pledged as security for debt.
The inventory and food distribution fall under three categories:
How They Keep Track of Donations
Keeping track of donations that go to food banks can be a complex matter. The tracking of the donations depends on several factors, especially that food banks are required to undergo an annual audit by an independent accountant.
All donations are recorded the moment they’re received. They are recorded on the books at fair value. Since food banks also receive money, it’s essential to have a separate revenue account but the expense side of the transaction must be recorded in its functional expense account.
Even if these donations don’t have a net impact on the financial books, it will still impact the organization’s total revenue and expenses.
What Happens With Improper Record-Keeping
Failure to keep track of in-kind donations may have the organization suffer legally and could incur penalties. There is also deception that has been going around in various organizations in which many were caught inflating their numbers to make them look more successful than they are, while others hide administrative costs to justify wasteful spending.
Fortunately, you can trust that Second Harvest complies with the regulations and laws, and ensures proper record-keeping is observed. Second Harvest food banks in various areas also publish their audits online for transparency. In turn, people trust the organization more, which is also why it is one of the most reputable food bank organizations today.
Aside from the financial statements, recording all in-kind contributions improve management. It helps with inventory and workflow. Moreover, it also ensures that the food bank is well-stocked and everyone who needs food will be able to get from the food bank.
Second Harvest and Their Food
Second Harvest distribute foods that families need to achieve balanced nutrition. They handle fresh products, dairy, meat, and non-perishable ones.
Food donations here are given by food manufacturers, retailers, food drives, restaurants, the federal government, Feeding America, wholesale, and the national organization. They are also able to buy food using the donated funds to ensure there’s a consistent supply of foods to make complete meals for families in need.
As mentioned, you can also give money and you can guarantee that the money will go directly to the people who need it the most. In fact, 96% of funds donated to the organization goes directly to providing food for families, and the 4% goes to administrative or fundraising expenses.
Second Harvest follows strict record-keeping of foods they receive from various sources. They are audited and the record helps them improve their management and ensure that there’s a consistent amount of food supply to sustain families who need it.
A growing number of people in the US are turning to food banks for food.Fortunately, there are over 200 food banks that can help.
Feeding America has a network of food banks around the country that provides over three billion meals to almost every community. The Good Shepherd Food Bank, a member of Feeding America, is the largest hunger-relief organization. However, the question is, how do food banks really work?
In this post, we will discuss how food banks work and why the hunger rate in the US is stagnant despite the number of food banks and pantries in the country.
What is a Food Bank
To know how food banks work, it’s essential to understand first what a food bank is. A food bank is a distribution facility that stores, repackage, and distributes donated food to member organizations and charities.
Food banks acquire food from various sources, national and local ones, and food drives and individual donations are also accepted.
The Distribution Process
Local charities, soup kitchens, and other facilities often turn to food banks to get their source of nutritious foods.
Food banks provide various distribution methods. However, they also have a list of member organizations that receive food regularly. Moreover, they have a warehouse packed with goods that are available for pick up or delivery.
Do note that not all organizations can be a member. An organization needs to meet specific criteria to become eligible to receive food from a food bank, such as:
How it Works
Now that you know how food bank works in terms of the collection, packaging, and distribution, what happens next? People can come straight to a food bank and they will be able to leave with a bag of food.
You need to remember that these food banks are private organizations in which most of their funding comes from individuals.
Food Bank vs. Food Pantry
Many people confuse the two and think that the two are the same. No, they’re not the same.
A food bank is an organization that collects from the roof industry, food drives, and then stores it and distributes it to agencies. With this type of organization, it can distribute to millions of people. Food banks work directly with agencies to make it easier for them to acquire nutrition foods.
On the other hand, a food pantry is an individual site that distributes bags or boxes of food directly to people in need in a specific area. It is a member agency that acquires food from a food bank.
How to Help a Food Bank
It’s likely there’s a food bank near you and the good news? You can help! What you can do is to donate money to national food banks or you can give to a food bank in your area. Another thing you can do is to support businesses that donate to food banks.
If you’re up for it, you can also conduct food drives with your family and friends to support food-related charities in your area. There are a lot of ways you can help food banks today.
On the holidays, you can volunteer at a local soup kitchen or go on area missions. However, you need to remember that food banks don’t only need your help during the busy times of the year—they need help every day.
You can also find some other tasks you can help with, such as running a forklift, keeping the accounting books, building a website, and many more. Check out what kind of help your local food bank needs, and from there, you can help in your own way.
If you don’t have the time to volunteer, there are drop-off bins to get you started. Also, you can gather a box of emergency food for your family and keep it safe and make up another box where you can donate it.
In case you want to donate food, here are some of the best foods to give:
Food Banks & Hunger
Sure, food banks are helpful, but why is hunger not eliminated fully yet, specifically in the country? This is because of one thing—poverty. Despite hunger being addressed by food banks, other factors contribute to hunger, such as housing, health care, and wages.
If you think about it, the root cause of hunger is mainly poverty and in the food bank community, the support for the issues like healthcare, wages, and housing remains to be controversial, with many people prefer to deliver free food.
Due to the lack of support provides by food banks, it has reduces its impact, which is why there remains to be stagnancy in food insecurity rates.
It’s true that food banks have fed so many mouths, yet they failed to move the needed. Therefore, many people seek that food banks address the issues that drive hunger as well to improve the percentage and lessen the number of hungry mouths to feed in the US significantly.
Now that you know how food banks work, how do you choose to help? There are many ways to help fight hunger, as well as controversies surrounding food banks. Still, it doesn’t hurt to help in ways that you can to help many people in need, especially at a difficult time like this.
Even if you don’t have the time to volunteer, there are so many ways you can help food banks today. You can contact your local food bank or food pantry to find out how you can help. Or you can also go grocery shopping for healthy and nutritious foods to donate.
Be one of the people responsible for ending hunger today.
The Truth About the Best By Dates on Food Products
You probably have noticed the dates on foods, such as “sell-by,”best-by,” and “use-by,” and all of these can be confusing! In this post, we’ll talk about their meanings to help you make the right decision when buying non-perishable foods, especially when you’re donating them to food banks.
This is aimed at the retailer that guides them when they should rotate product off the shelves.
“Best if used by” Date
This indicated the quality of the food. Therefore, don’t panic if you missed the “best by” date—you can still consume it after.
This is the last day the manufacturer recommends consuming the product based on quality. Again, it has nothing to do with safety.
Now, you might be wondering how long your food will last if it goes past the expiration date.
The answer to that is: it depends. It depends on what it is and how it was handled. The USDA recommends using products that have the use-by date by that time.
On the other hand, for sell-by dates that go past, you can still store it for a short period depending on what it is.
As for their nutritional value, it still depends. For example, a cup of orange juice can provide you with a full day of vitamin C, but if it’s been open for a week, it will lose its antioxidant benefits due to light and air exposure.
With that, some foods do really lose their nutrients when they’re exposed to air, and they may lose a bit more when you cook them. That’s why it’s vital you consume your fruits and vegetables as soon as you buy them.
Food Safety & the Best-By Date
Again, the best-by date talks about the quality. So, if you’re unsure about the safety of your food, the best thing to use here is your nose.
The smell of a food can say a lot about the freshness of the food; therefore, it’s your go-to “tool” when buying non-perishable foods. If there’s a sour smell, then it’s probably bad; so, skip it.
It’s also a good idea to have a good labeling system if you will store these items at home. That way, you will be able to tell which products should go first; at the same time, you can follow easily the “first in, first-out” basis.
Bets-by dates are about the quality of the food, not their safety. So, it’s not a reliable basis when it comes to food safety. Still, it’s important you know that the best-by dates don’t say much about the safety of the food, so you shouldn’t put one back on the shelf if you see it’s already past the best-by date. This is because you can still consume and use it.
Knowing what best-by date truly means will help you shop more efficiently and make your pantry even more organized. It is also helpful when you’re donating foods to food banks and other charities.
Non-perishable foods are those with long shelf life, which is why they’re most popular in food banks. However, it’s essential you know exactly the right non-perishable foods to give to food banks. What are the best non-perishable foods you can purchase for families that rely on food banks? We will discuss them here.
What is Considered Non-Perishable?
Non-perishable foods are the ones that can stay safe to consume for a long period without refrigeration. Some can last a few weeks to months on the shelf, while others can last for months. Military MREs and freeze-dried food can last up to 10 to 20 years.
What You Need to Know About Non-Perishable Foods
This type of food doesn’t need refrigeration. However, they need to be kept cool and dry at all times. If you see the food in a shelf at the store, then it’s also safe to have it on the shelf of your home.
They need to be kept off the floor to allow for air circulation. Remember, the number one enemy of non-perishable foods is air. So, you can consider using vacuum-sealed containers to extend their shelf life.
When buying canned foods, begin with the “best by” date. Of course, you shouldn’t get the ones with obvious signs of spoilage.
1. Canned Soup
Canned soup is the go-to food for many people who don’t have access to fresh food for whatever reason. With that, canned soups are the best choice because they’re healthy and comes in various flavors. However, make sure you choose low-sodium soups that are not cream-based. Why?
Although there’s really nothing wrong with cream-based soups, the problem is that creamier soups tend to have higher fat content and have more calories per serving compared to clear broth-based soups.
Stick to low-fat soups that have no more than 3 grams of fat per serving. Low-sodium soups should only have 360 milligrams or less sodium per serving.
Also, be mindful of added sugars! Look for soups with no or low sugar, which is four grams or less. It’s a good idea to scan labels for sodium levels and added sugar. Most major brands have their nutrition facts for their products on their website. Today, you can find plant-based soups to get a lot of nutrients.
2. Canned Fish or Meats
Most canned meats and fish are actually healthy due to their high protein content and rich omega-3 fatty acids. However, similar to canned soup, you need to read what’s on the label.
For one, oily fish, such as anchovies, sardines, and mackerel, are the highest sources of omega-3s. What’s best about them is that you can find them at a grocery store!
Also, these canned foods are not really loaded with preservatives. The truth is, canned foods don’t need preservatives because the heating and vacuum seal processes make these canned foods safe to eat and shelf-stable. However, salt, sugar, and added flavors may be added to improve the flavor that is lost because of the heating process.
3. Canned Vegetables and Fruits
These are two of the best non-perishable foods you can donate to a food bank. There is also a wide variety of these in grocery stores, which means that you can choose from many choices.
You don’t need to worry so much about their nutritional content because most of them have the same amount of nutrients as fresh and frozen products. In fact, you will even find some canned foods that have more vitamins and minerals compared to fresh options.
They are also more affordable, which means you can get as many as possible to donate to food banks.
Finally, canned fruits and vegetables are safe because they can use high levels of heat to preserve the food. In turn, this helps prevent the growth of pathogens often caused by food-borne illnesses.
Another thing you need to remember is that canned vegetables and fruits are processed within hours of harvest; therefore, this makes them healthy and great tasting as well.
When it comes to canned fruits, it’s best to store them in their own juice versus syrup because they’re lower in calories. You can also find canned vegetables with no salt added that are highly available in the market for you.
Pasta and other noodles are some of the best non-perishable items as well. What makes it a good choice for food banks is that it’s the perfect foundation for a healthy, nutritious, and satisfying meal. Moreover, it’s easy to partner it with other foods, such as fish and vegetables.
Pasta is widely available today and it’s a great source of glucose, which is necessary to fuel the muscles and brain. In addition to that, it’s an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, which means it can release energy at a slow and sustained level.
It is also rich in folic acid, which is essential for women. Finally, pasta is a good part of a well-balanced diet.
5. Peanut Butter (and other nut butters)
When it comes to spreads, peanut butter tops the list, which is also why it’s one of the best non-perishable foods you can donate to food banks today. Not only does it taste delicious, but it’s actually unprocessed food. Basically, it’s only peanuts that are ground until they turn into a paste. But yes, some peanut butter sold commercially contains added sugars and even trans fat.
One of the best things about peanut butter is that it’s an excellent protein source because it belongs to the legume family. It is comprised of at least 25% protein. Next, it’s low in carbs as it only contains 20% carbs, which is perfect if you follow a low-carb diet.
Finally, peanut butter and other nut butter are high in healthy fats and its rich in vitamins and minerals.
Shop for the Best Non-Perishable Foods Today
If you’re planning to donate to food banks, these four non-perishable foods are the best ones to donate. They’re healthy, convenient, and they’re widely available.